22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit.
If we claim to be led by the Spirit, where’s the evidence? Anyone can claim to be a Christian. Anyone can say they believe. But how can we be sure that God is at work in us? Paul lays out, in this very famous passage from Galatians, a nine-point test for Christian character.
All of us struggle with one or more of these. Patience, for example, is a difficult one for me. I have never been a patient person. It’s a strength in that I like to see things moving forward. It becomes a weakness when I fail to allow God to work in the background, try to take control myself, and subvert God’s timing. (Hint: it seldom works.)
These “fruits” are great yardsticks of our progress. In my experience, prayer and spiritual disciplines, along with service and leadership in the church, help us to cultivate all of these habits. Close interpersonal relationships like those with our children, parents, siblings, friends and significant others, plus work colleagues and church family, can also help us to grow in our practice.
But ultimately, it’s important to recognize that what Paul is laying out is not a program of self-improvement. It’s a process of being reshaped by a God who made us, who loved us enough to die for us, and whose Spirit promises always to dwell in us.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Which of the fruits of the Spirit do you find easiest to cultivate and practice? Which is most challenging? What would happen if you asked someone who loves you and is close to you for their perspective? Would you get the same answers?
Prayer: Creator God, continue to reshape us and reform us into the likeness of your Son. Allow your Presence to dwell in and flow through us so that we might become true witnesses who radiate all the fruits of the Spirit. Amen.